TOKYO – Japanese government officials recommended the creation of a reconstruction agency and the review of existing laws following a major disaster.
Their government has established a reconstruction agency following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed around 20,000 people, Tetsuji Morimoto, deputy director for disaster management of Japan’s Cabinet Office, told foreign journalists earlier this week.
The reconstruction agency was created within the Cabinet to coordinate the reconstruction activities in areas affected by the disaster, he added.
The central government also initiated a review of existing disaster laws to improve the preparation and response in case of disasters in the future, Morimoto said.
He stressed the importance of updated disaster laws as these serve as framework for local governments in preparing for and responding to calamities.
Japan’s Reconstruction Agency was established almost a year after the March 11, 2011 earthquake, according to Hisanaga Okuyama, the agency’s deputy director for press and international affairs.
To exist for no more than 10 years, the agency is tasked to plan, propose and coordinate all efforts to address the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, he added.
Ranked higher than government ministries, the agency’s top official can request other government agencies to provide necessary documents and other information needed in reconstruction activities.
Okuyama stressed the importance of the agency as it would be able to track all the different activities that the government would undertake during the reconstruction phase.
All major local projects, including the reconstruction of a sea wall in one of its districts, must be approved by the Reconstruction Agency, according to Masanori Yamamoto, mayor of tsunami-struck Miyako City in Iwate prefecture.
Funding is coursed through the reconstruction agency before it is distributed to the different ministries to implement the projects, Okuyama said when pressed for details on the budget.